30 May 2009

Loved it at 18; Still Love it at 52: "It's Only Rock 'n Roll" ... Stones

It's Only Rock 'n Roll (1974)
The Rolling Stones

.... If I could stick a knife in my heart
Suicide right on stage
Would it be enough for your teenage lust
Would it help to ease the pain? Ease your brain?
If I could dig down deep in my heart
Feelings would flood on the page
Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya
Would ya think the boy's insane? He's insane. ....
(from title track)

Yea, Jagger's seen enough of these cloeing fans to take a tongue-in-cheek shot at them.

I just replaced this album after 25 long years passing since I last owned it. And my reaction was just as I hoped: Temps cover Ain't Too Proud to Beg rocks just as hard as it did, and Dance Little Sister's masterful
riff (Clapton praised it glowingly) undergirding Mick Taylor's lead fills, turning a hot song to a scorcher, all enhanced by the remastered sound.

And the real test: I've been spinning the disc almost daily for the few weeks I've had it. And enjoying every song ('cept maybe Short and Curlies, a lyrical throw-away with nothing innovative about the music.)

I love it so much it makes me wanna be a rock and roll guitar player (again), specifically one of the crowd of guitarists on the title track, It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It).

And the lyrics, the stories Jagger tells here -- the rockers grab you and throw you into the wall to get you to sing / growl along. And the tender ballads excel because they are wiped clean of sentimentality. These are realistic love affairs, with unkind women populating Jagger's world.

On It's Only Rock n' Roll, this blues-band-at-its-core shows there stuff as mature pop artists, now in the business of selling records and building their reputation of blue eyed soul men.

Still to come was the "mid-life" crisis the band would face once Ronnie got settled in as their second guitar player and The Glimmer Twins began acting like a married couple that needed a break. (I myself, I'm on Keith's side of this fight -- anyone would have to fight to survive with Jagger's crushing ego in the room.

Here we have Mick Taylor and Richards growing apart as players, but still playing together like nobody else (If You Can't Rock Me ) is a good example from this record; 3 of the Stones' most recent 4 albums were highlighted by Taylor's work with either Mick or Keith or both).

One more note from me, with a strong endorsement to check this CD out: the American kids too young for the
Viet Nam draft are also to young to have followed the career of the early Stones. It was albums like "It's Only Rock 'n Rock" and Some Girls (1978) that brought the kids who grew up on 70s music into an entirely new Stones fan base. 'And we like it, like it, yes we do.'

24 May 2009

Nat King Cole, "Nature Boy"

Frank Sinatra called George Harrison's Something the greatest love song of the last 50 years. For my money, Nat King Cole performing "Nature Boy" is the best love song performance I ever heard.


22 May 2009

Well Hush My Mouth

While my computer was down for the last few weeks, it gave me some time to do some homework on Dylan's Just Like Tom Thumb Blues -- and reassess my appraisal of a new Neil Young cover discussed glowingly below.

I've been re-studying the original, piano and vocal-driven original by Dylan on Highway 61 Revisited. My conclusion: from the relentless vocal delivery of this apocalyptic poem, to the acoustic guitar fills that lighten the proceedings, the original Just Like Tom Thumb Blues is insuperable, aging quite well from the days when this song was part of Dylan's revolutionary transition from "finger pointing songs" to surrealistic electric and acoustic rock.

No one convinces you "she [took] your voice, and [left] you howling at the moon" as well as Dylan does.

It has been done with other Dylan songs, but nobody pushes aside the original album version of Just Like Tom Thumb Blues.